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From Athens, Georgia:

I am 22 years old and attending the University of Georgia. For my entire life I have wanted to serve in the military and protect my country. Unfortunately, I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. I am in perfect health and physically fit. I have no complications after having this disease for over 17 years. No branch of the military will allow me to enlist due to the fact that I am a diabetic. Considering I am perfectly able to do anything that the military requires, I think this is extremely unfair and unjust. I certainly understand why they would not want a diabetic to fill a combat position, but there are numerous non-combat positions that a diabetic could fill. I feel that this is a very blatant example of discrimination. I would very much appreciate anyone who could give me some advice on some options I might have to fight this. I could certainly use a helping hand in this situation.


This is a question that quite often arises and whilst I sympathise with your frustration I think you would be unable to establish discrimination because, when you think of it, there are likely to be situations, particularly if you get sent to the Middle East, in which it became impossible to manage your diabetes and where hypoglycemia could affect the lives of others. I also imagine that if you have some very specially needed skill such as fluency in Arabic that the Services could find a way around their general rule. So perhaps the best approach would be to consider other approaches such as the Peace Corps.


Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

I wish I could be more positive, but as far as I know the armed services will not accept anyone who has type 1 diabetes.


Additional comments from Dr. Larry Deeb:

Those are the rules. Sorry.


Additional comments from Jeff Hitchcock, CWD Founder and Editor:

I have spoken with many people in the US military about their exclusion of people with type 1 diabetes. The reasons focus on the fact that having type 1 diabetes will severely limit the military's ability to send you where it needs you. While a posting in the United States or in a modern country would make it easy to care for your diabetes, you could not be deployed into a war zone, or even into support area, without seriously risking both your health and the safety of those who depend on you.

There are changes underway in the military, at least for people already in. In the past, being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while you were in the service meant a medical discharge. That is no longer always the case. I have been told of one instance where a medical officer was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while on active duty and he was not discharged. His specialty permitted him to be based in the US at a major military hospital.


Original posting 30 Dec 2003
Posted to Other


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:54
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